State College Spikes

State College Spikes: Red-hot hitters burn Auburn

UNIVERSITY PARK — Six extra base hits, count them six — two doubles, three triples and a round tripper.

It doesn’t matter who is on the mound, the State College hitters are dialed in and are making the opposition pay.

Friday’s 9-3 series opening win over Auburn was nothing short of the now norm, as the Spikes (39-23) continued to be on fire at the dish.

With the win, the Spikes — owners of the best record in the New York-Penn League — now have a two-game lead in the Pinckney Division over Jamestown, which lost 5-4 to Williamsport.

The ways the Spikes’ are winning impress manager Oliver Marmol. In the last four games, the Spikes have scored 32 runs on 57 hits. The skipper was quick to credit much of that success to his hitting coach Ramon “Smokey” Ortiz.

“These guys are obviously swinging the bat really well,” Marmol said. “At this time of the year is when guys usually get tired. Smokey is doing a nice job of cutting down their routine, making sure that they’re hitting (batting practice) with a purpose and just conserving their energy for the game. So the work that we’re doing pre-game has a purpose to it, but it’s a little shorter than usual for the simple fact that we want them 100 percent.”

The Spikes got things going against the Doubledays in the bottom of the third inning with a leadoff triple to left by Steven Ramos. Two batters later, Ramos raced home on Brett Wiley’s sacrifice fly.

From that point, the squad never looked back and cruised to its eighth straight win.

The Spikes did a majority of their scoring in the middle innings and scored in five straight at-bats. In both the fifth and seventh frames, the Spikes’ put a three-spot on the board and Matthew Young’s three-run homer down the left field line capped the scoring in the seventh.

“We’re just taking advantage of some of their mistakes,” Carson Kelly said of his team’s 14 hits on the night. “Laying off the breaking balls and you get that fastball and you can jump right on it, but that’s what we’ve been doing.”

Kelly, Ramos and Michael Schulze each belted three hits to pace the attack. But, it was Ramos who was searching for that all-important home run in the bottom of the seventh inning, as he was trying to complete the cycle.

The Spikes’ center fielder got arguably the toughest of the hits for the cycle in with the triple in the third. He then smacked a RBI single to center field in the fourth and laced a double into the gap in left center in the sixth. When he came to the plate again in the seventh, he tried to make it happen.

“It’s in your mind, I was thinking about it the whole time,” Ramos said of his attempt to go deep in the bottom of the seventh. “I was trying for it, but obviously I’m not the biggest power hitter, so I came up a little short, but I had to go for it.”

David Washington, despite going 1-for-3 on the night, delivered a big RBI double in the bottom of the sixth. It was the 45th RBI for the Spikes’ first basemen, making him the club’s all-time single season leader in that category.

While the record will likely stick with him for a while, Washington was just glad to come through for his team.

“It means a lot, it means I’m helping my team win first and foremost,” he said. “Then I got a great reception from the fans here and I thought that was really awesome. It’s a great feeling, it means that I’m doing my job.”

Another Spikes’ player that came through was the starting pitcher Nick Petree. He picked up his third win of the season, allowing just one run and three hits in seven strong innings.

Marmol was pleased with what he saw out of his starter, who walked one and struck out three.

“He’s got good poise, keeps his composure regardless of the situation, understands what type of pitcher he needs to be in order to have success,” Marmol said. “He pitches down in the zone and uses his off-speed stuff even in the count, behind the count, ahead of the count, it doesn’t matter, he has a feel for it and he can throw it whenever. So the combination of things that he has in his arsenal allows him to have the type of success that he’s had this year.”

The Spikes will look to extend their winning streak in the second game of the three-game series against the Doubledays at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.